If I had been elected to Parliament I would have supported the Government’s censure motion, notwithstanding the argument that to do so would be an “inappropriate use of well-established procedure”. The extraordinary decisions by the previous Prime Minister warranted an extraordinary response. I concede that there is an element of political theatre in such a motion, but it was ever thus in Australian politics.
More tellingly, when asked to vote on the motion, MPs are faced with a choice of supporting it – theatrical though that may be – or not supporting it, by opposing or abstaining. I could not do anything but support the motion. Mr Morrison’s actions were fundamentally anti-democratic and to do other than publicly censure them in the House of Representatives is to rank other considerations more highly, whether that’s party loyalty, the status of the former Prime Minister as a back-bencher, or mere “optics”. The very institution that should have democracy and accountability at its core has to not only say it has those values, but be seen to defend them when they are undermined. I do not believe that simply support of the recommendations of High Court Justice Bell, necessary as that was, would have been sufficient. Fundamentally, I see the vote as one on an MP’s basic values. I suppose every vote can be seen that way, but in the case of the censure motion the message could not have been clearer.